“A Heart For God”

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure – Philippians 2:13

Compassion, forgiveness, respect, courtesy, patience…do you practice these on a daily basis? If we are to have a true heart for God, then these are the things He asks of us. Throughout the last few months, God has been working in me and through me. There is still so much I need to work on but I try, throughout my days and weeks to use those things that He would have me to use when I am out and about. Your conscience will speak to you during a particular moment when you know what you should say, do, or not say and not do. This is God speaking to you. There are so many times in the course of a day that you can put these things to work. Think about this when:

  • You get angry with the slow cashier at the supermarket/department store or the waitress at the restaurant. Maybe he/she is doing the best they can. Maybe it’s their first day or week. Maybe their burden is so heavy that they can’t concentrate on the task at hand. Be patient.
  • You get upset with a spouse/significant other/family member. Put yourself in their shoes. Try to figure out why they may have said what they said or did what they did. Imagine yourself in the same situation. Be forgiving.
  • You see an elderly person ahead of you in the check-out line struggling with a credit card machine or in slow-mode going down the highway. Life can be so fast-paced for people who have lived most of their life during a time when the days were simpler and life wasn’t so complicated and technology-driven. Don’t be rude. Be respectful.
  • You spot that person by the road asking for a handout. It seems easy to judge them. You might ask “why don’t they just get a job?” But do you know their circumstances? Are there mental health issues? Are they illiterate? Disabled? Maybe they have a job but it’s not enough to make ends meet. Obviously, there are those who ask for handouts and use them in less than appropriate ways (alcohol, drugs) but what if that person on the street is God’s way of allowing you to show compassion? Be compassionate.
  • Someone starts a conversation with you in the store aisle. This happened to me a couple weeks ago. I was trying to get a few things and get out as quickly as I could. I was rushed and this elderly man started a conversation with me. He was very kind and I tried to be kind in return, despite my rush. When I left the parking lot, he drove by me, honked, waved and smiled. Yes I was in a hurry but I took the time to speak with him. Maybe I was the only person he would speak to that day. Maybe he had no one else. If that conversation made him smile then it was worth it. Maybe God put me in his path that day. You just never know. Be courteous.
  • You feel the need to gossip. Ask yourself what you are gaining by passing on information (that may or may not be true) about someone else’s struggles or issues. Is it for the reaction that you will get from the person you are telling it to? Is it to make you feel better by speaking about someone else’s problems? If it is hurtful, it shouldn’t be said or repeated. We are all guilty, even me from time to time but I am really working on that.

I want to have a heart for God. A heart that will make Him proud. Think about the true “contents” of your heart. Does it contain things to be proud of? If not, consider making changes so that everything that comes from your mouth and every step you make comes from that place inside you where God wants to live and longs to stay.

“Powerless”

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good – Psalms 118:1

Mother Nature can be a beast. We learned this after a severe, freak storm hit us last Friday, downing trees and knocking out our power. More storms followed, slowing down the restoration in our area. It seemed we had been forgotten, but by the grace of God we made it through.

After seven and a half days without power, here is what I learned:

Day 1: How do people cope during major hurricanes (Katrina), massive tornadoes (Joplin, MO), etc.? Callie and I attempted to go shopping on Saturday to avoid the heat at home (it was a balmy 89 degrees in my house) and to basically have something to do. The shelves in the stores were already empty where gallon jugs of water should have been. Credit card machines were not working, making it difficult for people to purchase anything, including food, unless you had cash. Who carries cash anymore? Not the poor lady at Target with two screaming kids and a cart full of things to get her through the outage. She was forced to leave her things and go to the ATM. I have even more sympathy now for those people in the types of disasters mentioned above. God bless them.

Day 2: Greg’s mom and step-dad are very generous people. I knew this already, but they were particularly generous in the coming days with food, beds, fresh towels and showers. We were very grateful to have somewhere to stay for four nights and the added bonus of some bonding time. God blessed us.

Day 3: Sometimes things work out just right despite the odds. We had planned a trip to Carowinds in Charlotte for Monday and had made reservations to spend the night in a hotel. A much needed break and a hotel room were just the ticket. We had AC, beds, a bathroom, fresh towels and free breakfast without worrying about bothering anyone.

Day 4: I loathe the Laundromat. Is there a stronger word than loathe? If so, I would use it. It was 96 outside and 96 inside. It took what seemed like an eternity to dry the clothes. The power went out while I was there. Thankfully I was almost finished. Then a storm brewed as I loaded the car. We made it home safely though and had clean clothes. We also were able to fill jugs of water from the river (thankful to live close to the river!) to flush toilets. God provided again despite my grumblings.

Day 5: Greg will do whatever he can to make us happy. I admit my patience at this point had run thin. I just wanted some normalcy and it didn’t seem to be coming anytime soon. I still have a lot of work to do in the “be patient” department. We managed to borrow a generator and air conditioner window unit and sleep at home in our own beds. I am so thankful for a man who takes care of us. He is wonderful. God bless him.

Day 6: Back to work for me. I learned it IS possible to get ready for work with a generator-powered flat iron and a Coleman lantern. We also ended up with an extra AC unit (it wouldn’t fit in our bedroom window). I tried to pass it along to someone who needed it but everyone I asked didn’t have a generator to power it. I tried.

Day 7: At this point, I learned to just roll with it. Praying for those white trucks to come along and for God to give them the abilities they needed (in the miserable heat) to restore our power. Someone left us a case of bottled water on our doorstep. People were still being generous despite everything that was going on.

Day 8:  The half day! Our power was restored before noon. How grateful we were. We were all frustrated with the slow efforts at some point but unless you were out there working for AEP, then you don’t know how difficult it was. It would have been easy to blame the workers. I even heard that their trucks were egged. But I’m sure they were doing the best they could against the odds and I salute them for their hard work.

 The biggest lesson learned is we should never take anything for granted. Things such as clean, running water, electric heat or air conditioning, indoor plumbing, refrigerated food and ovens are luxuries to a lot of people in other countries and some of these things would be considered luxuries for people in our own country. When they are taken away from us for a length of time we can see this with a new perspective. It could have been worse. We kept our house and only lost our power. We lost our power, but kept our faith (even in moments of grumbling). God provides. He truly does.